Hezbollah and Syria reject French accusations over attack on U.N. peacekeepers
Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah denied on Monday any role in an attack which wounded five French U.N. peacekeepers last week, a day after France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe blamed Syria and Hezbollah for the bombing.
In a statement, Hezbollah urged Juppe to "correct his position and pay heed to the seriousness of such accusations which represent a great injustice, and which we completely reject".
“We condemn such statements which do not befit the foreign minister of an important country such as France,” the group said.
The French foreign minister on Sunday said he believes Damascus had probably ordered the attack in the coastal city of Tyre and that its ally Hezbollah had assisted in carrying it out.
“We have strong reasons to think that this attack came from there,” Juppe said, adding that he had no proof to back his claim.
The incident marked the third such attack this year against members of the United National Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
Syria on Monday also denied any involvement in last Friday’s attack and criticized Juppe for pointing a finger at Damascus.
“Syria has no link whatsoever with this act which we condemn,” foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi said in a statement.
The attack on the French peacekeepers came amid heightened tension over the growing nine-month revolt in Syria, with politicians and diplomats warning the unrest could spill into Lebanon, whose government is dominated by Hezbollah.
In his statement, Makdisi said that “remarks by Mr. Juppe and others are within the framework of premeditated French accusations made to mask the reality concerning Syria.”
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, the third this year on UNIFIL soldiers.
France, alongside Britain, Germany and the United States, has led a push for the U.N. Human Rights Council to take up the issue of Syria again.